Limbering up your Limbic System

When you have Complex PTSD, severe anxiety, or severe stress, chronic pain, your limbic system behaves as if you are under threat.

Your pituitary gland releases hormones to stimulate cortisol, adrenaline goes up, and inflammation goes up. Changes happen in your body. If you have a freeze response predominantly, weight goes up. You have have increased BP or decreased if you have POTS – postural orthostatic hypotension tachycardia syndrome. Long story short, you get sick, and will get sicker earlier in your life if you don’t look after your limbic system.

Try this regime – I use many Techniques for my CPTSD – breathing helped me manage my chronic sinusitis, butterfly hugs and Thoppokkurunam when I am tired or anxious, or when my ADHD is out of control. There are short maintenance exercises – like yoga which I do in the morning and QiGong at night.

Use the body scan – only 5 minutes – teaches you to take care of yourself. People with CPTSD very often don’t listen to illness signals in our bodies.

Take care



Tonight, in our BC ECHO for pain meeting, our topic is vulvodynia. This is the sensation of either burning, stinging, or sensitivity in the vulva area. Pain can occur spontaneously, or after sitting for long periods, intercourse, bicycle riding, tight clothes, using a tampon, or even a light touch.

This diagnosis is made once a healthcare provider has eliminated dermatological causes, infections, or an acidic diet. Some people with this condition have associated vaginismus, uncontrollable muscle spasms of the vagina, another often painful condition.

Individuals with depression have a 53% higher prevalence of vulvodynia than those who don’t present with depression. People with PTSD are twice as likely to have vulvodynia. . Those with complex PTSD, where they grew up with fear, have three times the likelihood of having vulvodynia.

Treating spontaneous vulvodynia has a similar approach to treating chronic pain. Medication can help, especially those medications that soothe the nervous system, like tricyclic antidepressants, duloxetine, selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs and anticonvulsants.

Of course, medication is not the only tool, and, for some people, these medications have intolerable side effects. This is especially true of people who have pain to touch. Pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback, and physiotherapy can be incredibly helpful.

Ice can be used to manage the pain, if that doesn’t help, try heat. It is not advisable to use lidocaine to have intercourse as intercourse can cause more pain.

Cognitive behaviour feedback is also valuable.

These tools can all be helped if you are able to Calm your Limbic System.

Good Luck


POTS dizziness low blood pressure high heart rate

POTS is a debilitating disease. It causes significant fatigue, fainting, or feeling faint, nausea, sweating, and the stress of POTS causes inflammation, lack of sleep – which causes more stress, more inflammation, more nerve symptoms, tingling, chronic pain.

My patient sitting with me says it is like a crippling migraine without a headache. My body doesn’t work. Pick up something heavy, and the arm goes numb. Affects my quality of life tremendously. I want to exercise, but then I get purple legs, pain, nausea, dizziness.

One of the many stress responses in the Limbic System is the secretion of ADH – Anti-diuretic hormone – meant to protect your body from blood loss. The Limbic system does NOT see the difference between physical danger (stress) or emotional danger (stress) or POTS (stress on the body ) and it reacts as if you are losing blood volume.

You develop thirst. Drink too much. Don’t excrete enough urine. Then you get sick. Nausea. Stop drinking because you are sick. So you use up the volume and then when that is done, the ADH rises again and we are back in the same cycle.

STOP DRINKING MORE THAN MAXIMUM 8 GLASSES OF LIQUID PER DAY. You will be thirsty. Suck on a lemon – life is a lemon anyway. Don’t use liquid salt or electrolyte drinks – makes it worse. Use salt tablet. Soy sauce and Marmite spread are useful.

Low impact exercise – small amounts 5 – 10 minutes frequently in the day. Learn pacing. Almost certainly your expectations will be higher than your body can manage because your body is sicker than you want to believe. Sorry – depression.

Improvement can happy with working on Limbic system. Try this link Ways to Calm Down – It may help.

Try and see if this helps. Really we are at a loss to treat this condition. I hope this helps a bit.

Good Luck


Inflammation causes disease

Chronic inflammation from toxins, like infections, sugar, alcohol, stress, they affect your blood vessels. The inflamed blood vessels are more likely to pack cholesterol clots and cause angina, heart attacks, strokes, eye or kidney disease. Inflammation in the brain can cause dementia.

Inflammation in the liver can cause fatty livers or livers affected by alcohol to be even more damaged. 

Work on any toxin you can avoid to lower inflammation.

Socialization with people who are nurturing is helpful. Avoid negative Nellies. Spiritual work is vital to our health.

Here is a program to help lower inflammation from stress – which we all have after and during this pandemic and one political crisis after another. 

Ways to Lower Stress and Inflammation.

Good luck 


Fight Fright Flight Response

Everyone responds differently to shock, or outside stress. If you have had a difficult childhood it is especially difficult to manage your stress response. 

To get better, and recover from stress and/or past trauma, we need to overcome barriers. The biggest hurdle is accepting and recognizing your main response to stress. This response is from your Limbic System

I am so lucky to have a Fight Response my main response. I take after my dad. He was a great boxer but unfortunately quick to lash out. I call my stress response a red flag because it comes up quickly and I attack like a bull. 

Many of my patients have a Flight Response. They run from their problems. Their most common response will be “I don’t want to talk about.” They can be hectic, always busy, even spending all their time running after other people, helping them, rather than themselves, all to avoid confronting issues. 

The most difficult response to overcome is the Frozen Response. These people are the procrastinators. They withdraw into themselves. Very often they have weight problems because their Limbic System if frozen and their metabolism is slow. They are the hardest to mobilize. They lack curiosity because their thinking processes are frozen. They also bear the heaviest shame burden because they blame themselves for not doing more. They are frozen like a rock. Solid and hard to move. Hard to change. 

I believe that stress and trauma are really well managed by working with the body. The body can calm the mind. If the limbic system is calmed, then the thinking parts of the brain will start to light up. 

Try these Ways to Calm Down. If you have a Fight or Flight response, you may likely see benefits even within a week. I know I did. I did yoga in the morning, Qi Gong at night, a light exercise program for 10 – 20 minutes in the day, and at least 2 of the other exercises during the day. 

If you have a Frozen response, it could take months of work to grind the rock down to sand. We need to be fluid. 

If you have Chronic Pain, your Limbic system is very activated. Try these exercises and adjust according to your body’s abilities. 

Good luck.




Leaders in Managing Chronic Pain

Dr. Andrea Furlan is another dedicated leader in chronic pain. She has wonderful videos on how to manage pain and I have added them to many sections of my website, including: Neck Pain, TMJ pain, Hand Pain, Back Pain Spinal Stenosis, Diet and Lifestyle.

She can be trusted, and is recommended by @PainBC ECHO for pain management. She is a physician and scientist, working at the Institute for Work & Health and the KITE Research Institute at University Health Network.

Thank you Andrea @adfurlan for your contribution to the society of pain warriors.


Toxins and Inflammation

Two years into this pandemic and it does NOT feel like yesterday. It has certainly taken some getting used to, and I continue to struggle against the stress of the changes we face.

We all know stress is a toxin, but there are many other toxins out there that can cause inflammation and disease.

Repetitive injuries can be harmful and cause inflammation. If the body doesn’t have time to heal, or if the injuries are not dealt with properly, then the area of inflammation can spread to uninjured tissue, causing widespread pain.

Diseases can be toxic to your body. If you have an autoimmune disease, your body produces antibodies that can be toxic to your tissues. Diabetes leads to high glucose which is toxic to your body.

Some people are very sensitive to sugar and refined sugar can lead to inflammation, either directly to tissues or indirectly, by causing inflammation. It’s hard to cut back on sugar, especially when you have addictive genes. I find being satisfied with a mere bite of chocolate the holy grail. Oh, well . . .

Alcohol is another toxin. It is not equally dangerous for everyone. Those of us with complex PTSD or metabolic disease (often these go together), we are especially likely to develop disease from alcohol. Alcohol can damage nerves and the brain and it also attacks muscle. Nerve injury from alcohol can be very painful and affect one’s ability to walk properly.

Another toxin to the body is inactivity. The body becomes stiff and sore without proper movement. During the day, we should move at least every 20 minutes. When we wake in the morning, especially when we get older, we are often stiff and sore from not moving. It’s hard to move when you have pain and often you have to start with a minute or two every hour and slowly increase.

Complex PTSD often interferes with movement. If you are born with a heightened freeze response, you are more inclined to resist movement. Limbic system trauma can affect the motivation centres of our brain and this makes doing 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day rather like climbing mount Everest.

If your flight response is heightened, you may be more interested in doing other things rather than attending to your trauma. You could be more likely to focus on helping others, running around busily, rather than attending to your body’s needs. It’s a way to avoid facing our past traumas.

To help your body heal, you could try Ways to Calm Down. This program can help calm the Limbic system and lower inflammation.

There are many other toxic substances we encounter every day, either specifically toxic to us, or generally toxic. Even pain medications, like Tylenol, if taken regularly, can cause headaches.

I hope this website can help you find ways to stretch, breathe, pace, and heal.

Good luck on your journey to healing.


Treating Hypothyroidism

Low thyroid levels are fairly common especially in postmenopausal women.

Checking your thyroid levels is very important. Low thyroid levels for a long time can cause changes to skin, hair, and can make you feel tired and cold. You may even gain a little bit of weight or become constipated. It can even change your cholesterol levels.

If you doctor prescribes thyroid medications, your health care provider will check TSH levels. TSH is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It comes from your pituitary gland in the Limbic system.

The TSH stimulates your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone. If your thyroid levels are too much, your TSH level will be low. If your thyroid hormones from your thyroid gland or from your medication is too much, then your TSH will be very low.

Too much thyroid can be dangerous, especially over a long time. As you get older, your TSH levels should be a little higher – in other words your thyroid hormones a little lower – than when you are younger. Too much thyroid is more harmful to your body than too little.

Here is a great link to the THYROID GLAND.

I hope that makes sense.

Take care.


ABC of Pandemic

Thank you to Vancouver Sun for publishing my piece.

Remember to get your booster shot as soon as you can. Take care


Resources for Healing Complex PTSD

Where to start? So many places and so little time. But, before we get to the resources, consider if you have overcome the first hurdle – accepting that you need help. That’s hard. I should know. It took me decades before I reached out to others to help me with my complex PTSD.

Asking for help is the next step. Shame can prevent you from reaching out. We’re taught to suck it up, buttercup. Or made to feel we’re no good. Who needs someone else confirming the lowest opinion we have of ourselves? Being so vulnerable may make us feel unsafe. When we have complex PTSD, most of us seek safety, and asking for help can feel unsafe. We can feel judged.

A friend could help overcome these barriers by accompanying you on a visit. Your healthcare provider could refer you to a mental health team, women’s resource center, or the Canadian Mental Health Association. You could have free access to these in Canada and don’t need to be referred.

The internet is a great tool. There are many sites that provide valuable free resources. 

Here are some links to tools to help you manage your symptoms of complex PTSD.

The Crappy Childhood Fairy

The CPTSD Foundation

Complex Trauma Resources

In this time of extreme stress, we need to reach out to others to help improve our quality of life.

Good luck.

Take care